A new trailer analysis for the upcoming Man of Steel is leading to speculation that Superman’s iconic sidekick Jimmy Olsen will be in the film … as Jenny Olsen.
An i09 trailer examination highlights a specific point where two people are running away from a crumbling building. On the left is Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), editor-in-chief at the Daily Planet, Clark Kent’s employer. To his right, White is accompanied by another poor soul attempting to dodge falling debris.
The person in point seems to be actress Rebecca Buller, who is listed in the movie’s IMDB page as “Jenny Olsen.”
Seeing as how both characters are in office attire for the scene, it does imply that whoever the person is, she probably works with White. This implies that she is part of the Daily Planet, which givens credence to the theory that she is the film’s equivalent of Jimmy Olsen.
It should be clarified that Jenny Olsen is not an entirely original character. This feminized Jimmy has made an appearance in the past in an alternate world, created by Superman’s most annoying villain Mxyzptlk. Of course, that alternate reality also made Perry White into Penny White while Lois Lane became Louis Lane, so sex reversal was common there.
Also, it is common tradition for male characters in comic books to have female counterparts (even the hairy, undoubtedly masculine Wolverine has a lady clone). Of course, these are separate characters that co-exist and, unlike the Jimmy/Jenny duality, do not actively change the sex of a character entirely.
Still, even if that were the case and Jenny is this film’s Jimmy, it would not be entirely novel because feminizing characters from the original source has become something of a trend lately. The most famous change was done in CBS’ Elementary, where Sherlock Holmes’ friend and sidekick John Watson became Joan Watson, portrayed by Lucy Liu.
Because Liu is a talented actress and has made the role her own, it doesn’t make this decision seem like a glaring mistake. However, Doyle’s work had plenty of female characters that deserved screen time so changing the iconic John Watson wasn’t necessary.
Similarly, if the filmmakers wished to include a female sidekick, it still wasn’t necessary to sacrifice the iconic character of Jimmy Olsen because Superman’s supporting cast has many fantastic females. The most glaring omission is the warrior queen Wonder Woman, who could have been introduced very effectively here.
If Dark Knight Rises can bring in Robin so nicely, why can’t Superman’s movie act as a launching point for the world’s most dangerous female? It would only bring the Justice League movie closer to fruition and, considering that Marvel is already setting the stage for Avengers 2, DC needs to catch up.
Either way, when there are binders full of women in the DC lineup, Jenny Olsen seems like an arbitrary, if not forced, choice. It defeats the purpose of modernity if a female character were simply shoehorned in to the story for the sake of having a female character.
If the film-makers have indeed chosen Jenny over Jimmy, they now need to prove that this decision was merited because, if they don’t, it will only be the worst kind of misogyny: the kind that tells women that any position they have has been handed to them.